May 8, 2023
B2B eCommerce is a popular term since the advent of platforms such as eBay, which democratized the online trading between sellers and buyers. This transactional model raises questions that we answer in this B2B eCommerce FAQ.
"B2B eCommerce" or "business to business electronic commerce" is the commercial transactions between different professional entities carried out via the Internet.
In general, this digital solution allows professionals to optimize their sales and purchasing processes thanks to time savings related to the automation of certain tasks such as the edition of purchase orders or invoices, and also to a better visibility on stocks allowing sellers to sell better and to offer a more fluid purchasing experience to buyers.
Overall, the digital trade transaction solution shortens the time to market at every stage of the sale and creates great growth opportunities. In a nutshell, the purpose of B2B eCommerce is to sell more and have a larger reach.
There are actually 3 main profiles of B2B eCommerce professionals:
Manufacturers produce goods on an industrial scale and then sell them to wholesale professionals or other manufacturers.
Wholesalers are the specialists in the sale of large volumes, well known as "wholesale". Professionals in the medical, restaurant or construction sectors are big fans of buying goods from wholesalers because, by buying a large number of products in a single order, they make a significant saving on the total amount, which turns into added value when reselling to their customers, who pay the undiscounted retail price.
The benefit of a B2B eCommerce platform for wholesalers is twofold: by digitizing the day-to-day tasks of commercial transactions, they offer an optimized buying experience to their buyers, but more importantly, it allows them to enhance the value of their goods by presenting their product lines in a clearer way.
Distributors are the best allies of manufacturers since they offer the latter the opportunity to benefit from a better visibility and to take advantage of their positive reputation by putting forward their products in points of sale (virtual in the framework of eCommerce) directly exposed to the final customers.
The promise of this partnership is, of course, to increase the manufacturer's sales.
It allows sellers to offer their goods and services. In this sense, they are designed to improve and facilitate sales.
E-procurement is often confused with B2B eCommerce. It's quite subtle, but e-procurement platforms are designed more for buyers to make their buying process faster and smoother.
For example, e-procurement platforms offer quote editing
If we were to summarize the B2B marketplace model, we could say that it is a system articulated around 3 stakeholders: the sellers, the buyers, and the operator. The latter is the one who designs the platform. He must meet the expectations and requirements of both sellers and buyers. This represents the specific characteristic of the marketplace model, seen by some players in the field as the last stage of maturity of a B2B company as shown in the diagram below:
There are two main types of eCommerce sites: the so-called "closed" sites, and the "open" sites. Let's review:
They can be consulted by all professionals and individuals, and can be referenced by search engines. For example Vistaprint is a great example of an open B2B eCommerce site where a buyer can access products and services via a search engine. Once products have been selected, the buyer needs to register or login to access payment, delivery time and personalized promos.
Access to closed platforms requires identification using "login". The content of the platform thus secretly offers to the sellers the possibility to protect their sensitive information like their prices, their references, the functionalities proposed on their sites etc... Avoiding in this way the competitors to be inspired. This type of eCommerce site is also known as an e-procurement site where buyers need to have a specific pre-approved relationship with the seller to purchase.
Online shopping has become a part of our everyday behavior and B2C keeps increasing and reinventing online experiences for the ever-demanding consumer. These behaviors and expectations learned in private now set a new tone for B2B businesses. Profesionnel buyers expect the same convenience, transparency and speed in the world of B2B. More than 81% buyers (Deloitte survey 2021) expect to buy online and will choose another supplier if the online experience doesn’t meet their needs.
With the modern B2B buyer and an uncertain and interconnected environment, businesses can no longer afford not to adapt and react to new market changes where multiple and new channels demand adaptation and adjustments to older systems.
The professional buyers do not have the same stakes and constraints of purchase as the private individuals. They generally buy larger quantities, and thus seek the best products at the best prices. In addition, there are often several decision-makers in the purchasing process, which is, in fact, longer.
Online solutions have the advantage of centralizing all product information in one place: on what is called a "product sheet".
B2B eCommerce platforms usually provide sellers with detailed information to analyze the effectiveness of their business strategies.
For example, by discovering what their customers are more interested in, what they are not interested in, salespeople will be able to make strategic decisions that are better adapted to their customers' expectations. They will also be able to follow the evolution of their commercial activity and thus act according to the results.
If the historical customers with whom the salespeople have created a relationship of trust continue to buy on a recurring basis, it can be interesting for B2B companies to capture new customers to compensate for possible breaches of contract or simply to develop their sales figures. And today, to attract new customers, it is essential to offer an online solution as B2B buyers have moved away from "old" transaction methods to faster solutions.
By gathering information about their customers' shopping habits, sellers can tailor the functionality and look and feel of their B2B eCommerce platforms to meet buyers' expectations. For example, they will be able to offer customers the option of reordering goods purchased in a previous order, without having to go through the entire purchase process again (searching for products, adding to the cart, filling out billing and payment information). Other functionalities help the buyer to find the products he is interested in without having to perform long searches on a catalog. In short, customers can have a personalized online catalog. This means that sellers will be able to offer personalized prices according to a customer's buying habits and sector of activity for example.
This saves a lot of time for professionals, as it allows them to optimize their profitability since they can focus on their core business and not spend as much time on their purchases.
A personalized buying experience offers the prospect of ever-increasing customer satisfaction, thus strengthening the commercial relationship between B2B sellers and buyers.
eCommerce platforms offer sellers the possibility to set up automated purchase recommendations by proposing, for example, products that are compatible with those the buyer is interested in or products that are usually purchased with, or even similar products in order to facilitate the buying process. But on the sales side, this allows for additional sales synonymous with an increase in the average basket.
All these advantages allow sellers to develop their turnover with a volume of sales and a speed of growth that conventional commerce does not allow, since digital solutions can adapt quickly and efficiently to the new buying behaviors of professionals.
There are two main types of eCommerce sites: the so-called "closed" sites, and the so-called "open" sites. Let's review:
They can be consulted by all, professionals and individuals, and can be referenced by search engines.
Access to closed platforms requires identification using "login". The content of the platform thus secretly kept offers to the sellers the possibility to protect their sensitive information like their prices, their references, the functionalities proposed on their sites etc... Avoiding in this way the competitors to be inspired.